COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and caused us to think about things in different ways, including how we school our children. New data from the Connecticut Department of Education shows more families choosing to homeschool.
“With the change to the distance learning, hybrid learning whatever you want to call it and it is not working for all families. So what really needs to happen here is the needs of the students and the needs of the family have to come first,” Diane Connors, president of the Connecticut Homeschool Network, said.
For thousands of Connecticut families that means homeschooling.
Connors, president of the Connecticut Homeschool Network, has been homeschooling her 10 children for over 30 years.
“Right now there are not enough options available to them so they’re turning to homeschooling. Whether it’s for one year until things settle down or they decide whether they’re going to do it permanently,” Connors said.
School enrollment in Connecticut declined by 3% this year. That includes more than 3,000 children exiting public school and opting to homeschool.
“I think a lot of parents made decisions in the fall -- they were not sure what to expect. We found that in pre-k and k that a lot of parents also chose to keep their children home another year,” Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said
Enrollment in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten fell by 50%.
“The feedback that we’re getting is that sitting in front of a computer is not working for all children,” Connors said.
Connors said they spent their summer helping parents understand homeschooling, which is more flexible than hybrid learning where a child has to be in front of a screen during a certain time.
“The distance learning thing has posed quite a challenge for many families simply with a scheduling conflict. The hybrid schedule is a mix of days on and day off and that’s now how typical families are structured.”
Leeann Ducat homeschools her 11-year-old son. She said they can amend the schooling schedule to adapt to their work schedules - a spelling test over breakfast or a math lesson on a weekend.
“The biggest misconception about homeschooling is that you’re not sitting at your kitchen table instructing your child from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. September to June,” Ducat said.
That’s not what it looks like in practice.
“Everybody can make it work for them instead of having to comply and conform to a cookie cutter type of learning that doesn’t work for every kid,” Ducat said.
Cardona said he’s happy they have the data because now they know why they are seeing a decrease in enrollment.
“So now we know and now we can work on strategies to communicate what we’re doing in our schools to build that consumer confidence that’s critically important to public education,” Cardona said.